Monday, 20 February 2017
Bulgaria - NATO Print E-mail

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Bulgaria as a member of NATO 

Since its accession to the Alliance on 29 March 2004 Bulgaria has proved its full capability to fulfill the duties and obligations of a NATO Member.

Bulgaria’s contribution to NATO’s activities is multi-faceted. Bulgaria works actively for strengthening the political dialogue, the consultations and the coordination in NATO. The country contributes to NATO crisis-management operations and missions, as well as to the political and defence transformation of the Alliance. In April 2006 Sofia hosted a high-level NATO forum - the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States, which was an important step in the preparations for the Riga Summit in November 2006. The Riga Summit, as well as the follow-up ministerial meetings, fostered the political transformation of NATO (promoting the partnership formats of the Alliance, the enlargement process, strengthening the cooperation with other international organizations, especially the strategic partnership with the European Union) and the continued transformation of the defence capabilities.

Positions on some major items on NATO agenda:

NATO enlargement is an essential component of the Alliance’s political transformation. Bulgaria consistently supports NATO open doors policy, sharing the view that the European and the Euro-Atlantic perspectives provide the most stable guarantees for achieving lasting security and prosperity.

Against the backdrop of its support for the Euro-Atlantic prospect of the countries in the Western Balkans, Bulgaria has played an active role in reaching the decision taken in Riga to extend invitations to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP). Our country assists the new partners in getting full use of the existing partnership instruments in the area of the defence and security sector reform with a view to achieving greater stability and security in the long-term.

Bulgaria supports the development of the cooperation between NATO and Russia as an essential element of the Euro-Atlantic security in its two interrelated aspects: political dialogue and practical cooperation. The cooperation between NATO and Russia in spheres related to the fight against terrorism, military cooperation and defence reforms should be developed on the basis of mutual understanding.

Bulgaria is willing to further develop the NATO-Ukraine relations. Bulgaria supports the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine and provides assistance in the defence reform, public diplomacy, etc.

A new phase in the relations between NATO and Georgia started in September 2006 (the launch of the Intensified Dialogue). This Dialogue implies greater responsibilities for Georgia in terms of domestic and foreign policy, peaceful settlement of the frozen conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhasia, constructive neighbourhood policy. Bulgaria actively supports Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Our Embassy to Tbilisi has been a NATO Contact Point Embassy for several years. We also participate in the New Group of Friends of Georgia. We have launched a number of bilateral initiatives for assistance. Bulgaria, together with other NATO Allies, is an active participant in the South Caucasus Clearing House mechanism providing expert and technical assistance for defence reform in the countries of the South Caucus.

In the course of the implementation of the decisions taken at the 2004 Istanbul Summit, NATO has reinforced the two dimensions of the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) – the political consultations and the practical cooperation. The 26+7 format of the Mediterranean Dialogue is one of the parameters of Alliance’s possible role in the region.

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative launched in June 2004 with the objective to strengthen the stability and security in the region of the wider Middle East through the establishment of mutually beneficial bilateral partnerships between NATO and individual countries in the region is a proof of NATO’s determination to successfully transform and adapt itself to the new challenges to the regional and global security.

In the context of its NATO and EU membership, Bulgaria tries to contribute, according to its capabilities, to the strengthening and deepening of the strategic cooperation between these two organizations, as well as to the expansion of the Transatlantic dialogue. A common Transatlantic response to the common security challenges is the most efficient one. Speaking in a single voice on both sides of the Atlantic multiplies the effect of the allied efforts. The capabilities of NATO and the EU are largely complementary, whereas the tools at their disposal cover a wide range of military capabilities and capabilities in the field of stabilization and reconstruction.

Chronology of the relations:

June 7-8, 1990 - At a Ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Turnberry, Scotland, NATO Foreign Ministers issue a "Message from Turnberry" in which they extend a hand of friendship and cooperation to the Soviet Union and all other European countries.  

July 6, 1990 - NATO Heads of State and Government meeting in London issue the London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance. The Declaration outlines a number of proposals for developing political and military cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including the establishment of regular diplomatic liaison.

July 13, 1990 - Bulgaria accepts the invitation extended by the Alliance to establish regular diplomatic relations with a Declaration issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Bulgarian Ambassador to Belgium is authorized to maintain diplomatic relations with NATO.

November 15, 1990 - First visit by a Bulgarian Foreign Minister (Mr. Luben Gotsev) to NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

November 26-28, 1990 - The North Atlantic Assembly meeting in London accords associate delegate status to parliamentarians from Bulgaria and other countries from Central and Eastern Europe. 

April 4, 1991 - Establishment of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, the first non-governmental Atlantic association outside NATO member states. Since October 1992, the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria has been associated with the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), initially as an observer and later as an associate member.

April 30, 1991 - First visit to NATO by a Bulgarian Prime Minister (Mr. Dimitar Popov) and a Bulgarian Defence Minister (Col. Gen. Yordan Mutafchiev). 

June 12-14, 1991 - Dr. Manfred Woerner pays the first official visit of NATO Secretary General to Bulgaria.

November 8, 1991 -  NATO Heads of State and Government issue the Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation in which they propose to the Soviet Union and the other countries from Central and Eastern Europe more institutionalized relations and cooperation on political and security issues, including the establishment of a North Atlantic Cooperation Council. 

February 26, 1992 - Bulgarian Ambassador to NATO, Mrs. Lea Cohen, participates in the first NACC meeting at the ambassadorial level to discuss and adopt a "Work Plan for Dialogue, Partnership, and Cooperation".

March 10, 1992 - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev participates in an extraordinary meeting of the NACC which endorses the first NACC Work Plan for Dialogue, Partnership and Cooperation.

April 1, 1992 - Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimiter Loudjev participates in the first meeting of NATO and Cooperation Partner Defence Ministers to identify areas for further cooperation on defence-related matters. 

April 10, 1992 - First meeting of the NATO Military Committee in Cooperation Session with Chiefs of General Staff of Cooperation Partner countries.

June 22-23, 1993 - Bulgaria hosts the second meeting of NATO's Atlantic Policy Advisory Group with the participation of Cooperation Partners, chaired by Ambassador Gebhardt von Moltke, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs.

December 21, 1993 - The National Assembly adopts a consensus Declaration stating Bulgaria's aspiration to accede to the North Atlantic Alliance and the WEU.

January 10-11, 1994 - At the Brussels Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government issue an invitation to all NACC Partner countries and Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) states able and willing to participate to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP).

February 14, 1994 - The President of Bulgaria, Zhelyu Zhelev, signs the Partnership for Peace Framework Document at NATO Headquarters. 

February 25 , 1994- NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Support Robin Beard visits Bulgaria to discuss plans to establish a defence management and defence procurement co-operation program for the Bulgarian armed forces. After Hungary, Bulgaria is the second Cooperation Partner to be offered such assistance.

June 3, 1994 - Ceremony to mark the opening of the offices for NATO Partners, including Bulgaria, at NATO Headquarters.

June 6, 1994 - Bulgaria submits its PfP Presentation Document to NATO.

November 2, 1994 - Bulgaria signs a Security Agreement with NATO. .

November 28, 1994 - The Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Todor Chourov, visits NATO. At a meeting of the North Atlantic Council he declares acceptance of Bulgaria's PfP Individual Partnership Program which has been jointly developed by Bulgaria and NATO and approved by the North Atlantic Council.

February 1995 - Bulgaria joins the PfP Planning and Review Process and submits its Survey of Overall PfP Interoperability.

June 7, 1995 - Bulgaria hosts, for the first time, a NATO/PfP exercise - "COOPERATIVE RESCUE".

September 28, 1995 - Bulgaria participates in a meeting at NATO Headquarters for the presentation of the conclusions of the Study on NATO Enlargement to interested Partner countries.

October 16, 1995 - Bulgaria accedes to the Status of Forces Agreement between the NATO member states and the PfP countries (ratified by the National Assembly on 5 April 1996).

January 17, 1996 - The Bulgarian Government takes a decision on the formal establishment of a Bulgarian Liaison Office at NATO Headquarters.

February 2, 1996 - The Bulgarian Government takes a decision on Bulgaria's participation in an individual Intensified Dialogue on membership issues.

April 10, 1996 - Bulgaria presents to NATO a Discussion Paper within the Intensified Dialogue on membership issues. Between May 1996 - October 1998 Bulgaria participates in a number of individual meetings with NATO within the Intensified Dialogue.

December 16, 1996 - Bulgaria concludes with NATO an agreement regarding participation in the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

January 29, 1997 - The President of Bulgaria, Peter Stoyanov, visits NATO Headquarters to meet Secretary General Javier Solana and the Permanent Representatives of NATO Member States, and declares Bulgaria's will for full membership in NATO.

February 17, 1997 - The Government of Prime Minister Stefan Sofianski formally announces Bulgaria's application for NATO membership.

February 25, 1997 - Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev visits NATO and meets Secretary General Javier Solana to present the decision of the Bulgarian Government regarding membership.

March 17, 1997 - The Government adopts a National Program for Preparation and Accession to NATO. An Inter-Ministerial Committee on NATO Integration (currently - Inter-Ministerial Council on NATO Integration) is established to coordinate the efforts for preparation and accession to the Alliance.

May 8, 1997 - A National Consensus Declaration defining the Bulgaria's membership in NATO as a fundamental national priority is adopted by the Parliament.

May 22, 1997 - In letters to the 16 Allied Foreign Ministers, the newly appointed Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova states the readiness and willingness of Bulgaria to be among the first countries invited to join NATO.

May 30, 1997 - Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova attends the concluding meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and inaugural meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in Sintra, Portugal. NATO and Cooperation Partner Foreign Ministers approve the EAPC Basic Document.

July 8, 1997 - At the Madrid Summit meeting, NATO Heads of State and Government agree to invite the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to begin accession talks with NATO. They also reaffirm that the Alliance remains open to new members and agree to review the process at their next meeting in 1999.

July 11, 1997 - In a Declaration, the Government of Bulgaria welcomes the Madrid Summit decisions as a historic opening of the Alliance to the new European democracies, and congratulates the three new members. The Government reaffirms that joining the North Atlantic Alliance remains Bulgaria's immediate national interest and strategic priority, and voices the expectation that the country will be invited to join the Alliance at the next summit meeting in 1999.

July 20, 1997 - Bulgaria concludes with NATO an agreement regarding participation in the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

October 3, 1997 - Bulgaria hosts the first meeting of Defence Ministers of NATO and PfP countries in Southeastern Europe within the SEDM process.

October 2-8, 1997 - 43rd General Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) in Sofia, hosted by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, for the first time in a NATO Partner country.

December 4, 1997 - The Bulgarian Government decides to establish a Permanent Diplomatic Mission to NATO and WEU in Brussels. The first Head of the Mission, Ambassador Boyko Noev, presents his credentials on 18 March 1998.

April 27, 1998 - Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova and Defence Minister Georgi Ananiev participate in a North Atlantic Council meeting, in 16+1 format, within the framework of the Intensified Dialogue on NATO membership issues.

October 7, 1998 - Prime Minister Ivan Kostov visits NATO to participate in a meeting of NAC in the framework of the Intensified Dialogue on membership issues.

April-December 1998 - A review of Bulgaria's progress towards compatibility and interoperability with NATO is implemented within the Inter-Ministerial Committee on NATO integration.

October 23, 1998 - The National Assembly adopts a Declaration on Kosovo approving the actions of the Government in support of NATO efforts there as well as the deepening of the cooperation with the Alliance in view of the membership perspective.

March 25, 1999 - The National Assembly adopts a Declaration on the conflict in Kosovo re-affirming the strategic choice for membership in NATO, and expressing Bulgaria's solidarity with the Euro-Atlantic community.

April 23-25, 1999 - At the Washington Summit meeting, NATO leaders commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Alliance and launch a series of initiatives, including the Membership Action Plan (MAP) to assist Bulgaria and other countries aspiring to NATO membership, and the South East Europe Initiative (SEEI) to enhance regional security and promote regional cooperation in SEE. Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov takes part in the EAPC Summit meeting.

April 28, 1999 - Bulgaria and NATO conclude an Agreement on Transit through the Airspace of Bulgaria of NATO Aircraft within Operation Allied Force.

June 21, 1999 - Bulgaria and NATO conclude an Agreement regarding the Transit of NATO Personnel and Equipment within the framework of Operation Joint Guardian.

October 22, 1999 - Bulgaria presents to NATO its first Annual National Program 1999-2000 under the Membership Action Plan.

April 14, 2000 - Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova and Defence Minister Boyko Noev participate in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in 19+1 format to discuss the Progress Report on the implementation of Bulgaria's first MAP Annual National Program.

May 19, 2000 - Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova participates in a conference of the Foreign Ministers of the 9 applicant countries in Vilnius to launch the Vilnius process.

July 12, 2000 - The EAPC Ambassadors note the establishment of the Southeastern Europe Security Cooperation Steering Group (SEEGROUP) - a major project within NATO's South East Europe Initiative (SEEI), launched with Bulgaria's lead role.

October 2, 2000 - Bulgaria's second MAP Annual National Program 2000-2001 is presented to Ambassador Klaus-Peter Klaiber, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, during his visit to Sofia. 

October 3, 2000 - First meeting of SEEGROUP at the level of Senior Officials in Sofia.

October 12-13, 2000 - Meeting of the Defence Ministers of the Vilnius Group countries in Sofia, attended by Lord Robertson, NATO Secretary General.

March 21, 2001 - Bulgarian Defence Minister Boyko Noev and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson sign an Agreement between Bulgaria and NATO regarding the Transit of NATO Forces and NATO Personnel. (Ratified by the National Assembly on April 6, 2001).

April 30, 2001 - President Peter Stoyanov participates in a NAC meeting in 19 plus 1 format to discuss the second Progress Report on Bulgaria's participation in the Membership Action Plan. 

September 13, 2001 - The Bulgarian Government expresses the readiness of Bulgaria, though not yet a Party to the North Atlantic Treaty, to apply the commitments stemming from Article 5 of the Treaty, and to provide the assistance that may be required in accordance with the Statement of the North Atlantic Council dated 12 September 2001.

October 5, 2001 - Sofia Summit of the New Democracies with the participation of the Heads of State of the Vilnius Group countries attended by Lord Robertson, Secretary General of NATO. The Summit adopts a Solidarity Declaration with the United States and the NAC Decision of 4 October 2001, reaffirming the commitment of the V-10 countries to conduct foreign and security policies in accordance with the implications of the Washington Treaty, including commitments stemming from its Article 5.

November 14, 2001 - The National Assembly unanimously ratifies a bilateral Agreement between the Governments of Bulgaria and the United States regarding overflight, and transit through, and presence in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria of U.S. forces, personnel and contractors in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Under the agreement, Bulgaria hosts the first ever US Air Force base on its territory.

December 19, 2001 - The National Assembly adopts by consensus a Declaration in support of the decision of 29 November 2001 of the Bulgarian Government on decommissioning and destruction of the SS-23 missiles.

January 1, 2002 - Bulgaria assumes the responsibilities of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2002 - 2004), and declares counter-terrorism as a priority issue on its agenda.

January 10, 2002 - Bulgaria joins the Memorandum of Understanding, signed in London, concerning the formation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In February 2002 a Bulgarian contingent is deployed in the Kabul area.

February 14, 2002 - A meeting in Bucharest of the Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Turkey launches a "2 plus 2" dialogue and cooperation regarding the early accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the North Atlantic Alliance. 

April 23, 2002 - Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov participate in a NAC meeting in 19+1 format to discuss the third Progress Report on Bulgaria's participation in the Membership Action Plan. 

May 24-28, 2002 - Bulgaria hosts the Spring Session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

November 21, 2002 - At the Prague Summit meeting, NATO Heads of State and Government formally invite Bulgaria along with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to begin accession talks with NATO.

December 29, 2002 - Bulgarian Government approves the team for the accession talks, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov. The Council of Ministers also approves expanded staff of Bulgaria?s Permanent Diplomatic Mission to NATO in Brussels, to be transformed into a national delegation to NATO after accession to the Alliance.

January 10, 2003 - First round of the accession talks at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

February 7, 2003 - The National Assembly adopts a decision for granting permission for overflight, temporary presence and transit through the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria of forces and personnel of the United States and other members of the coalition, and for the sending and deployment of Bulgarian nuclear, biological and chemical protection units out of the country, in support of the planning of a possible coalition operation, in connection with the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

February 10, 2003 - Second round of the accession talks at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

March 7, 2003 - Senior Political Committee (Reinforced) meeting in 19 plus 1 format to discuss Bulgaria's Timetable for Completion of Reforms.

March 17, 2003 - Minister of Foreign Affairs Solomon Passy sends to NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson a "Letter of Intent" confirming Bulgaria's interest, willingness, and ability to join the Alliance. The country's Timetable for Completion of Reforms is attached to the letter.

March 26, 2003 - At an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the Permanent Representatives of the 19 Member States sign the Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, in the presence of Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and the Foreign Ministers of the other invitees.

May 29, 2003 - The National Assembly decides on Bulgaria's participation in the multinational stabilization forces in Iraq.

June 18, 2003 - The North Atlantic Council decides to open NATO committees and other working bodies for participation of the invited countries as observers. 

August 2003 - An infantry battalion of the Bulgarian army (480 servicemen) is deployed in Karbala, Iraq, within the Polish command zone.

October 6, 2003 - Bulgaria presents to NATO its revised MAP Annual National Program for 2003-2004.  

November 5, 2003 - Meeting of the Senior Political Committee (Reinforced) in 19 plus 1 format to discuss the fifth Annual National Program under the Membership Action Plan.

December 4, 2003 - Foreign Minister Solomon Passy participates in the first meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers session with the invited countries in Brussels. The Final Communique states that the formal accession of the new members into the Alliance will take place as soon as the ratification process is complete.

January 21, 2004 - Foreign Minister Solomon Passy meets the North Atlantic Council in his capacity of OSCE Chairman-in-Office to brief NATO Ambassadors on the priorities and intentions of the Bulgarian Chairmanship and to discuss the prospects for enhanced cooperation between OCSE and NATO. Meeting with the new Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and with the U.S. Permanent Representative Ambassador Nicholas Burns. 

February 5, 2004 - The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria approves the North Atlantic Treaty and submits to the National Assembly a proposal to ratify the Treaty.

March 1, 2004 - NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer sends letter to Foreign Minister Solomon Passy notifying him of the enforcement of the Accession Protocol after all NATO member states have deposited their ratification documents with the United States. In the name of the member countries Scheffer extends an official invitation to Bulgaria to join the North Atlantic Treaty.

March 18, 2004 - The National Assembly ratifies the Ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty Act by a prevalent majority.

March 29, 2004 - In Washington the prime ministers of the seven invited countries simultaneously deposit their documents for accession with the United States government, whereby they become parties to the treaty and full-fledged NATO members on the same date.

March 31, 2004 - The National Assembly adopts a Declaration on the occasion of the Republic of Bulagria?s accession to NATO by an overwhelming majority.

April 2, 2004 - Participation of the Foreign Minister in an official ceremony at NATO Headquarters in Brussels for marking the accession of the new members with the participation of the 26 foreign ministers. The ceremony features raising of the national flags of the seven states and a solemn meeting of the North Atlantic Council. Minister Solomon Passy takes part in informal meetings of the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Russia Council on the level of foreign ministers.